The Magnificent Seven


This morning was spent accompanying Maggie, Mike and Bill wandering first around the industrial centre outside the town and then around Bergerac itself.   The other customers in the large supermarkets on the outskirts were mostly French, whereas the Saturday market sprawling across streets both old and new, featured a fair smattering of English accents.  Although larger than most it has a pretty familiar set of stalls; cheap clothing and nicknacks; CDs and DVDs; vegetables and much else.  Maggie was attracted to tables containing crumpled, presumably second-hand, clothing priced at 1 or 2 euros.  The men weren’t.

We first had to drive around in search of a parking space.  This took some considerable time because the main carpark was occupied by a funfair.

By the time we returned, and Bill and I were dropped off at Sigoules, the acute headache I had woken with was considerably worse and I felt a bit queasy.  There was nothing for it but to lie down.  I divested myself of my raincoat, shed my shoes, and fell on top of my duvet.  I dozed for about five hours, stirring to climb under the duvet when I felt cold.  In the early evening I took three paracetamol, made scrambled eggs on toast, and returned to bed after eating them.  I was now well enough to finish reading ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger and begin Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’.  Before settling down to nine hours sleep, I remembered to take off my jacket, otherwise I remained fully clothed.

Some five years ago now, I received a telephone call from Mike Kindred telling me that his friend John Turpin, whom I had met once or twice, had asked him if he knew anyone who could take the photographs for a book he had written about the seven landscaped Victorian cemeteries known as ‘The Magnificent Seven’.  He sought my permission to give John my name.  This I gave willingly.  For the next two years, covering different seasons, John and I visited the venues for the purpose of photography.  From Kensal Green and West Brompton in the west to Abney Park and Tower Hamlets in the east, I became very familiar with the Victorian way of death.  Usually travelling with John, who knew all the cemeteries backwards, I sometimes returned alone to those in the west to which I could easily walk from W2 where I was living at the time.  One winter’s day John rang me to tell me about magnificent sunsets he had seen at Kensal Green.  Off I went  and took what I think were stunning sunsets against the various extravagant monuments in that, the first of these cemeteries.  It was a great disappointment when Amberley Press chose, for reasons of cost, to publish in black and white.  As I am not at home I cannot illustrate this post with a picture from the book.Cemetery Sigoules 8.12  Sigoules cemetery will have to do.

My friend Alison knew of this publication, so when she discovered that ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ was set in and around Highgate cemetery, perhaps the most famous of the septet, she lent me the book.  Once I got over one or two early similes which I thought rather fanciful, I thoroughly enjoyed the beguiling novel.  It is a ghost story like none other.  It is about love, grief, loss, and relationships, displaying a sound knowledge of humanity.  It provides evidence of a familiarity with London, introducing me to the intriguing Postman’s Park, of which I had never heard.  And it has a surprising denouement.

Postscript 10th September 2013:Kensal Green 12.08 -4

Abney Park 11.08 25Now at home, I add a few random (except for the sunset) pictures from the cemeteries.

Abney Park 11.08 26

Brompton 15The book’s ISBN number is 978 – 1 – 4456 – 0038 – 3. Highgate (West) 10.08 25 Published by Amberley, it is by John Turpin and Derrick Knight.

54 responses to “The Magnificent Seven”

  1. Congratulations for the book!!! I have mentioned it in my former blog The Ivy Castle.
    I am currently writing an article about the Magnificent Seven in my Spanish blog Escritorio Zero.

  2. […] On one corner is situated a tribute to those who suffered in the suffragette movement which fought for votes for women in the early twentieth century. The body of their leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, is buried in Brompton Cemetery. Her gravestone in the form of a celtic cross features in ‘The Magnificent Seven’. […]

  3. This is an amazing story about your becoming connected to an author. Then, how you captured the 7 cemeteries, in various seasons and times of day, Derrick. It really is a shame to have your lovely photographs only be placed in the book in black and white. Though, it is wonderful to say you were the photographer who illustrated a book! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this. The sunset in the one photo with the cemetery statuary in the shadows and the beautiful Autumn leaves in another were extraordinary, Derrick.

  4. What a story and what pictures! Thanks so much for sharing the link. (Many books ago, I read “Her Fearful Symmetry.”)

  5. I understand your disappointment about the sunset photo but black and white photographs can create a certain atmosphere that colours may detract. I often thought that your photographs should be in a book; I’m glad to learn that they are 🙂

  6. Wonderful photos, Derrick. I am adding that novel (Her Fearful Symmetry) to my Goodreads to-read list. Did you like The Other Boleyn Girl? I liked it so much I accidentally bought it twice haha.

  7. I had not realised. How fascinating! Thanks for the link. I often think I should set aside some time to read through some of the earlier posts from my blogging buddies.

  8. Your photos, with this post, are just lovely.
    Particularly the cross; backlit by the warm fire in the sky – both poignantly shadowing the man made buildings.
    And the framed view of the great lion – so strong, but now sleeping – though still very much ‘holding’ that space for all who look at him.

  9. A wonderful re-read for me!
    I love that your photos have been in a book! These are such beautiful photos!
    (I love to visit cemeteries. To honor those passed on. To learn about their lives. To see the statues, artwork, architecture, etc.)
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

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